In which many cutscenes take place
Opening scene: A tiny ship, a big wave, two scared hooded people!
It's The Perfect Storm with CGI! Oh, no, wait, it's
a dream. The dreamer, a languishing brunette in an ill-fitting princess
dress, sits up and looks out the window. This symbolizes her yearning
to be free. V. interesting. It's never been done before, a princess
who wants to leave her royal duties behind and live the wild, footloose
life of a commonerI wonder where they'll go with it?
Cut to a ship, which hasSizer-sama as the masthead?
Oh, no, it's a mermaid. But it was promising for a moment. A tailed
blond boy bounces about the ship like a monkey doing choreography
by Ballantine. From the back, of course, since that's the direction
we'll be seeing him from for most of the game. It amuses me that
FF9's idea of a good character introduction is giving the player
a long look at the character's butt.
It's a nice butt.
Sudden switch from cutscene graphics to regular graphics. I'm
gonna have to get used to that; I can't make a damn thing out about
the characters' faces in regular mode. Monkey-boy steps into a dark
room, announces that it's dark, then lights a match and turns the
controls over to the player.
I make him shuffle about the room briefly, until he passes by
a little table and an exclamation point appears above his head.
I press the button that the manual says to press, and the boy lights
the candle on the table. The room brightens. Ahthis is the
player tutorial! It's vaguely insulting that the game designers
think their audience needs to be taught how to poke single buttons
and light candles, but at the same time, um... I do need to be taught
how to poke single buttons and light candles.
Three piratey sorts run into the room as though Gilbert and Sullivan
just gave them their cue, and babble for a bit about how the captain's
not here. Ah, it's the conversation tutorial.
A bizarre creature with the body of Santa Claus, the wardrobe
of a Gilbert and Sullivan pirate, and the head of a blue metal dragon
leaps into the room and roars. COMBAT! The camera whizzes around
the little room dramatically. Surprisingly, it is dramatic.
Beams and chairs zoom by in an exciting, dynamic way. Then the camera
gets ahold of itself and shows the dragon-pirate facing off against
the monkey boy and the three pirates, all five combatants doing
the Combat Hula.
This sets off a flurry of panic and page-turning for me, because
I didn't bother reading the combat section of the manual. Those
things never make sense until you've been in combat, anyway. So
here's combat, and I don't even know how to pause to read the manual.
I poke at buttons frantically, reading snatches of the manual when
it looks like a have a second. One by one the pirates bound forward
and take a swipe at the dragon-pirate. They're all feeble, except
for the monkey boy, but that's okaythe dragon-pirate keeps
tripping and falling down when it tries to bound forward.
Finally, one of the pirates deals the killing blow. The dragon-head
splits open to reveal--the captain, clutching his head and complaining
that his men hit too hard.
After some mandatory belly-laughing, all of the pirates run into
the anteroom and take up dramatic, languid poses. The captain picks
up puppets and announces the plan: The bandits (they're not pirates,
they're banditsget it straight) will sail into Alexandria
and, under cover of putting on a play, steal the delectable Princess
Garnet. NOT Queen Brahne, who's greebly. Princess Garnet. She's
a babe. Got that? Princess Garnet = Babe-raham Lincoln = stealable.
Queen Brahne = troll = leave her be.
The bandit captain repeats this as though there's an off chance
that one of the two designated kidnappersmonkey boy, who turns
out to be called Zidanemight accidentally run off with Queen
Brahne instead. This sounds interesting. Remove the Queen, leave
a wet adolescent dreamer in control of the kingdom, destabilize
the country, take control, marry monkZidane to the
Princess as a figurehead, RULE THE WORLD! But no, all they want
to do is... er... Actually, they never say. But presumably it's
just a ransom racket.
So. Garnet = good. Queen = bad.
I stick my hand up Zidane's ass, and like a good little puppet,
he agrees to the plan.
Cut to more credits. The bandit shipa truly impressive Tudor
confectionrolls through the clouds, sails past the palace,
and docks in Alexandria.
the streets of Alexandria, a pile of laundry in a pointy hat watches
the ship with wonder. But that's a matter for another chapter.
On to the next chapter...